It’s my third term at Milpera, the state school for refugee and migrant children here in Brisbane, and things are always changing. Every term new children arrive and I say good-bye to others who’ve graduated to local high schools. I never know who is going to come to my weekly creative writing sessions or whether I’ll be able to capture and hold the children’s imaginations. So I come prepared with three or four different ideas ready to roll.
Today I brought a present given to me by my Canadian friend Sonny. You may remember I met 29-year-old Sonny and his mum Debbie on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria in April. Sonny is special to me because this young man, who is severely developmentally challenged, shares the open love of a young child. And that’s what he gave me: a LOVE plaque that he decorated with brightly coloured gems.
This piece of LOVE usually sits in my study where I can see it, but today I brought it to Milpera and the girls who came to write couldn’t keep their hands off it. They touched the sparkly gems and traced small brown fingers over the raised white letters. Even though these girls are at the beginning of their English-language journey, they knew the word love.
We talked about the colours of love and then we drew our own love-hearts and filled our two-dimensional hearts with the names of people who help make us complete. It wasn’t exactly what I had planned on writing about or talking about from a creative writing perspective but it turned out to be an exercise in appreciation for me — of people I’ve met and known at different points throughout my life.
Then one girl, Little K, drew solid feet sprouting from the base of her heart. And I thought, why not? Love came from Sonny and his mother across the ocean to us. Our love has feet. Love can take us around the block or across the world. If only we allow it to.
Thank you Sonny!
Playful writing with Miss Kiki: draw a large love heart on an blank piece of paper and fill it with all the words that come to mind, don’t censor them, don’t judge, let them flow. Think of all the things you love and have loved: people, colours, music, smells, feelings, clothes, food, places, animals, textures. Start writing when the first sentence is formed in your head, or write about the word that surprises you most.